PUCL Bulletin, June 2002

National Commission for SC & ST wants to know why an upper cast landlord's "bonded labourer escaped without clearing his dues" ?

By Jai Singh,
President, Dalit Daastaa Virodhi Andolan

(Shri Jaya Singh, President Dalit Daastaa Virodhi Aandolan, Punjab has sent a petition to the president of India protesting against the direction from the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to the Director General of Police, Punjab to hold an enquiry into a complaint made by an upper cast land lord that "his bonded labourer has escaped without clearing his dues". We reproduce below the petition to the President of India - Chief Editor)

1. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was constituted to deliver speedy justice, wherever any member of Scheduled Caste is facing atrocity or caste discrimination. I am shocked when yesterday the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Phillaur District Jalandhar. Punjab, summoned me and Hari Singh, a bonded labourer to appear before him in an investigation, on a complaint made by an upper caste landlord against the members of Scheduled Caste for denial to render services as bonded labourer.

2. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was approached by an upper caste landlord, Gurmakh Singh S/o Shri Hardev Singh R/o Boaran Khurd, Post office Binheri Khurd, Tehsil Nabha, District Patiala, by addressing a letter to Harinder Singh Khalsa, Member of National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

In short, the contents of the matter are as mentioned below:

  • (a) That, Gurmakh Singh has paid an advance too Hari Singh (a member of caste Majhbi Sikh, notified as Scheduled Caste in Punjab) and employed him as a servant to work in his agricultural farm.
  • (b) Hari Singh has made a complaint through Jai Singh a self-styled chairman of an organization if they want to quit the landlords they can do so, without clearing the bonded debt.
  • (c) There was an outstanding debt against Hari Singh, amounting to Rupees 46,150/-(Rupees Forty-six thousand one hundred and fifty) and he left the employment without clearing his debt and is living with Jai Singh.
  • (d) Jai Singh is causing loss to a number of landlords, by encouraging them to leave the employment without clearing their bonded debts.
  • (e) And many other allegations similar to the given above all contrary to the law, subject to admission of committing atrocities on scheduled caste has been mentioned.

3. National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has entertained the complaint of an upper caste landlord and vide its letter No. pb/99/2001 APCR dated 13th June 2001 orders has been passed directing Director General of Police Punjab, to investigate the matter.Under the direction of DGP the DSP Phillaur is holding the inquiry.

4. Through the undersigned is a semiliterate person, but still able to understand that:

  • The continuance of Bonded Labour System is a violation of Article 21 and 23 Constitution of India.
  • The continuance of Bonded Labour System is a violation of Article 4 of the Universal Human Rights Declarations.
  • International Labour Organisation vide its Covenants 29 and 105 has urged to put ban on forced labour to its members and India is one of them.
  • The Parliament of India has passed a law named "The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976". The Act prohibits to make any advance under, or in pursuance of, the bonded labour system, and to compel any person to render any bonded labour or other from of forced labour. Section 17 of this Act declares punishment for advancing bonded debt Enforcing, extracting and abatement are also declared offences.
  • Under Section 3(1) (VI) of The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, compelling and entering a member of Scheduled Caste to do beggar, and other types of forced labour is held to be an atrocity.

5. The members of Scheduled Caste are illiterate, economically and socially backward, for the historical reason they were not a part of the judicial system, which remains so even today. To enable them to fight the discriminations made against them, and achieve what the Constitution of India has promised them, the Free Legal Aid Scheme is introduced. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was constituted to monitor the administration to ensure the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes get justice speedily, and to make recommendations to the Government of India for the upliftment of the SC and ST.

If the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on a complaint made by upper caste has to order the Director General of Police to look in to the matter why bonded labourers members of Scheduled Caste have escaped from the custody of bonded keeper, why asylum is provided to them and why the law passed by the Indian Parliament is being breached which is favouring the members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, then do we really need such a Commission? Such service we have been already getting from the State Administration for the last several years, without any extra financial burden on the economy of this country.

6. As a member of Scheduled Caste and a citizen of India, the undersigned aspires that right from the Chairman of the Commission to the sweeper of the Commission to the sweeper of the Commission have knowledge on why this Commission has been made, who can seek relief and the laws made to rage out the caste discriminations. If the members of this Commission want to know why the bonded labourers wants to free themselves, it is a mockery to the Constitution of India, and the Act under which this Commission has came in to existence. If not this then it is the criteria of selection of its members and appointment of staff is definitely wrong.

Moreover, the senior police officials if not able to respond back to say the inquiry they are asked to make runs contrary to law and the complainant has admitted the offences committed under such crimes where they need to take cognizance, it means either they are demoralized to point out the erroneous orders of their superiors, or they too need orientation on law made to protect the marginalized people of this country. I am utterly ashamed to be a citizen of a country known to be the largest democracy in the world where members of a special Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes entrusted special kind of work and the law enforcing agencies to make out a case where the offender commits the crime and still the victim of the legal inquiry is questioned and harassed.

Your Excellency is the protector of Constitution of India, the action of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is contrary to "Fundamental Rights" granted to every citizen of India, it will demoralize millions of bonded labourers who are generally either members of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes to seek Equity. Freedom and Justice. The Commission has become a tool to benefit upper caste landlords, who want to keep their dominance over the poor marginalised members of Scheduled Caste and a burden on Indian economy. I pray your Excellency, either to correct the functioning of the Commission or to obliterate it from the statute book. - Jai Hind.

Yours Faithfully,
Jai Singh,
President, Dalit Daastaa Virodhi Andolan


Home | Index